Following Wednesday night’s 105-73 offensive explosion over N.C. State, Florida State looks to regain some normalcy with a two-game week for the first time in over a month. The Noles will take on ACC blue-blood North Carolina in the Civic Center Saturday at noon on ESPN.
If FSU wants to improve to 7-2 on the season, they may have to do it without the help of one of their star players. Breakout freshman guard Scottie Barnes did not return after spraining his ankle midway through the second half.
After the win, Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton said the injury “wasn’t anything to be overly concerned about.” So far in 2020-21, Barnes is averaging 11.1 points a game with a team-leading 4.1 assists, seventh-best in the ACC.
In terms of his status for Saturday’s matchup, it will be a game-time decision as to whether Barnes will play against North Carolina. A condensed schedule for FSU with two games in the next three days may factor into the decision. Hamilton gave an update Friday on his availability.
“He still has a turned ankle; we really don’t know. We probably won’t know until game time as to where he is,” Hamilton said. “I always err on the side of caution, if a guy is not 100 percent.”
If Barnes is out, Florida State will need another strong outing from their reserve guards. Seniors Rayquan Evans and Nathanael Jack both set career highs, with 24 and 18 points respectively, in Wednesday’s win.
Whether the stellar freshman is able to play or not, the Seminoles will look to continue to feast offensively in transition Saturday as they did versus N.C. State. Facing a press for much of the game, Florida State made the Wolfpack pay with 27 points in transition.
FSU could be in for another track meet versus UNC, as Hamilton called them “one of the best transition teams in the country.” North Carolina heads to Tallahassee on a 3-game winning streak and sits at 8-4 overall and 3-2 in the ACC.
A big factor in North Carolina’s recent victories has been an overwhelming advantage on the glass. On Tuesday, UNC outrebounded Syracuse by 17 and pulled down 19 offensive boards.
Two weeks ago against Notre Dame, the Tar Heels overcame a poor shooting performance with another huge rebounding night (plus-21) over the Irish. Hamilton said North Carolina’s tendency to outrebound opponents actually goes back to his days when he scouted them as a Kentucky assistant.
“It’s no secret. They are big, they’re strong, they’re athletic. It’s a battle down there, and they win most of the battles. That is part of who they are, their culture. They are just dominating people inside.
Not satisfied after the blowout win over NCSU, Florida State is more concerned about stringing together more wins than their record-setting offensive performance on Wednesday.
“I think it shows our potential, but it also is somewhat alarming as to why it has taken us this long to be sync,” said Hamilton. “In order for that game to meaningful, we need to come back and do it again and again.”